By Sylvia Henderson. © All rights reserved.
The Hart and the Hunter
The Hart was once drinking from a pool and admiring the noble figure he made there. “Ah,” said he, “where can you see such noble horns as these, with such antlers! But I wish I had legs more worthy to bear such a noble crown. It’s a pity these legs are so slim and slight.” At that moment a Hunter approached and sent an arrow whistling after him. Away bounded the Hart, and soon, by the aid of his nimble legs, was nearly out of sight of the Hunter. But not noticing where he was going, the Hart passed under some trees with branches growing low in which his antlers got caught so that the Hunter had time to catch up. “Alas! alas!” cried the entangled Hart. “We often despise what is most useful to us.”
(From: Aesop’s Fables. http://aesopfables.com/ Public domain text.)
We often despise what is most useful to us. What comes to mind, among several things, is how multiple generations view modes of communication, especially with each other. From time immemorial youth and adults have chosen ways to communicate that confound the other. The nature of youth is to communicate with each other in ways that shut out adults. The nature of adults is to “teach those young folk to ‘communicate correctly’ so that we can understand them” because surely, we adults know best. The reality is that each generation is exposed to different technologies and that which is common to one generation becomes obsolete to the next. Each generation adapts the communications technologies and modes with which they matured, which infers that they are the technologies and modes with which each generation is most comfortable.
Why should one generation change for the other? Why should one generation try to communicate in ways that are uncomfortable for themselves in order to accommodate the other generation for whom those very ways are “unnatural”? Why not make the others adjust in reverse?
Are these questions familiar to you? Are you the younger generation or the older one? With whom are you trying to communicate? Are you frustrated with the ineffectiveness of your communications? Is it you or is it “them”? Does it matter as long as communications remain ineffective? How can you adjust your communications so that others receive your messages more effectively? How can you “hear” others more effectively?
First and foremost, know that you can seldom change other people; you must take responsibility for yourself and make your own adjustments in attitude, knowledge, and actions.
Next, consider the current workplace and school environments. As of this writing it is the second decade of the 21st century. (Reference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010s) The generation of people born after 1985 are in school, have graduated, are in the workplace, and are advancing to leadership positions. This generation was born into a world of portable computing and communications made available to “every household”. Portable communications consist of cell phones and portable (or personal) digital devices, laptop and tablet computers, instant text-based messaging, easy access to video and audio technology, and more. The “natural” modes of communication in their personal lives carry into their school and workplace environments. They communicate effectively with each other and wonder why they must adapt to generations for whom such communications modes are difficult to practice. Why adapt? After all, the rules change as the new normal takes over. The answer: because if you are of this generation, you must work for, learn from, get work done by, be hired and evaluated by, team with, serve, earn your living and profit from, volunteer with, and possibly care for people older than you who communicate using different modes and technologies from those with which you are comfortable.
The generation of people born prior to 1985 are currently well-established in the workplace or retired. They are decision-makers, owners, teachers and professors, executives, supervisors, presidents, parents and grandparents, and many other categories of “experienced”. For the sake of this article, “this generation” includes people born into technologies from the telegraph to desktop personal computers. Communicating on paper, by telephone, and by e-mail are the comfortable modes for this generation. They either reject, or find difficult to regularly practice, methods of communication that are common for those born after 1985. Why adapt? After all, they were in the world first. The answer: because if you are of this generation, you must work for, learn from, get work done by, be hired and evaluated by, team with, serve, earn your living and profit from, volunteer with, and possibly still care for people younger than you who communicate using different modes and technologies from those with which you are comfortable.
Wait a minute! The answer to “Why adapt?” is the same for both generations. How can this be, and what do we do about it? The answer to the first part of the question is obvious as we look at multiple generations because there are multiple generations co-existing in school and in the workplace. The answer to the second part of the question is also obvious, yet difficult to accept and act on. The obvious part is that each generation must adapt to the other in order to communicate effectively with each other. Each needs the other in order to learn, live, and thrive. We achieve the difficult to accept and act on part by practicing the following five actions.
In the book Txtversations – How Old Farts Must Communicate With Young Whipper-Snappers More Effectively, and Vice Versa (So We Can Get On With Life & Get Things Accomplished), ISBN #1-932197-31-1, available at SpringboardTraining.com/Products/Invest-Success and Amazon.com, author Sylvia Henderson identifies the following five actions that help multiple generations communicate more effectively with each other.